As tends to happen this time of year, I've been doing a lot of reflecting. And a lot of relaxing, which lends more time to reflection than I normally get (hence the paucity of this blog's entries). Over the weekend, part of my relaxing involved watching "The West Wing" starting with episode 1. Is it me, or does watching that show just make you feel smarter as the snappy dialogue flies?
Anyway, at one point the President suggested to a new father that he teach his daughter to whistle. As it happens, it's a skill that my daughters don't have--and I blurted out "I'm a failure as a father!"
My wife came back with "Yeah--but they can juggle!" Which is true. I taught them to juggle very early on, and through strategic disinterest encouraged the skill.
It's a point that came back to me as I read Adrian Savage's recent entry on "deficit thinking." I've been doing a lot of that, lately, in relation to my job, to my relationships, to my health. Even had a long, drawn out discussion with friends who were telling me to "focus on the positive" and "quit making yourself miserable."
It's not quite that easy--in fact, with me, it's impossible, because I feel as though I'm lying to myself or trying to deny reality. The analogy I used was an EMT going to the scene of an accident--she doesn't say "Wow, they're breathing! Their heart is beating! They have no head trauma! They're fine!" No, she says "Ok, the stuff that should be there IS there, but what's wrong? Broken femur? Let's deal with it!" and focuses on the problem.
One friend did suggest the idea that these things could be challenges...and that was something I could respond to. As I said, "Tell me to be positive, it'll just make me mad. Give me a chance to be clever, and I'll cackle with glee."
It's the MacGuyver instinct. Or it's Han Solo navigating a mine field and shouting "Never tell me the odds!" It's my drill instructor yelling "Improvise! Adapt! Overcome!" That's the kind of spirit I can get behind.
Which is why the part of Adrian's entry that resonated the most for me was this one:
Don’t buy the foolish idea you have a right to be happy. There’s no such right. The best way to be happy is to give up being miserable. Let it go. Sometimes you’ll feel happy, sometimes sad, and very often neither. That’s the way life is. Smile and enjoy it.
That sounds like the best kind resolution there is.